Feature: The Chinese Bond of an Armenian Family Living in Ukraine

[Source]    Confucius Institute at Kyiv National Linguistic University, Ukraine [Time]    2018-06-11 17:13:27 

In Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, there is a happy family of five. Mother Karina Gevorgyan is a Chinese teacher. Everyone calls her “Teacher Ka”. Father Ararat Terteryan is a businessman. They have two beautiful daughters and a cute son. They are the “star family” of the Confucius Institute at Kyiv National Linguistic University. They come from Armenia and live in Ukraine, but they have developed a special bond with China through Chinese.

Karina and her family

On sharing the story between China and her, Karina said that she has bonded with the country back in the late 1980s. The trip of Karina’s mother to China in February, 1989, coincided with Chinese Spring Festival. After returning home, her mother told her about the beautiful scenery of cities like Shanghai and Suzhou, the traditional customs of celebrating the Spring Festival, and the warm reception of Chinese tour guides and friends. Since then, “China”, a name which made her feel both afar and close, has deeply rooted in Karina’s heart.

Karina’s mother (first from left) traveling to Suzhou with a tour group in 1989

Karina’s brother also likes Chinese very much, but due to some limitations at that time, her brother could only learn Chinese by reading some books. Her brother said to her, “You must learn Chinese. China is the most promising country. Chinese will become the most popular language!” Therefore, Karina chose to study Chinese major at university and embarked on her own road of Chinese learning. “This is not only my dream but also the dream of my brother and our family.”

Driven by the passion for Chinese and interest in China, Karina has studied in China for eight years. During this period, she not only learned Chinese, experienced rich university life and customs, enjoyed beautiful scenery, but also set up her own happy family.

In 2008, Karina graduated from Fudan University with a doctoral degree in Chinese Language and Literature. During her days at university, she actively participated in the activities organized by the university and gave countless performances at the evening party for foreign students.

Karina giving performance when studying in China

Besides, Karina likes to travel around China, and two trips have left her with unforgettable experiences. The first was in 2000 when she first came to study in China. She went to Guangzhou with her classmates in winter vacation, and it happened to be Chinese New Year’s Eve when they returned to the university. They encountered the “Spring Festival travel rush” when they were trying to buy tickets. “That was the first time I saw so many people lining up. I was completely shocked!” Finally, they managed to buy the train tickets with the help of the police and spent a special New Year’s Eve. The second trip was in 2006 when Karina’s mother came to China to visit her. When they were traveling in Shanghai, her mother was surprised at the earth-shaking changes in China, “When I came to China years prior, the streets were just crowded with bicycles. I never thought China could become such a prosperous country as now! I finally understand why you want to come to China. I support you!”

Karina and her mother in China, 2006

Meanwhile, Karina tied the knot in China. Her boyfriend Ararat flew to China from England after gaining a better understanding of the life in the country. In 2007, they registered for marriage in China and welcomed the birth of their eldest daughter here. Ararat has moved some of his work focus to China.

“Teacher Ka” and her husband registering for marriage at Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau

After gaining her doctoral degree, Karina works at Kyiv National Linguistic University of Ukraine to teach Chinese. In the meantime, she, as an instructor of the Student Friendship Association of Confucius Institute at the university, has always taken an active role in supporting and participating in various events held by the Confucius Institute, and sometimes even brings her children to join the students, not to mention her active participation in such festivals as the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

In May last year, Karina and her eldest daughter took part in the Dragon Boat Festival celebration “Fragrance of Zongzi and Fun of Poems along the Silk Road” held by the Confucius Institute. Together with the teachers of the Confucius Institute, they wrapped up zongzi, tasted delicious food, and enjoyed themselves amid festive atmosphere. In February this year, Karina and Chinese teacher Dong Xuesong sang the classic song “Red Berries in Blossom” in Russian and Chinese at the cultural event with the theme of “Warmth of Culture” in celebration of Spring Festival co-organized by the Confucius Institute and the Kyiv Geriatric Nursing Home, sending new year's greetings to the elderly. Then later in March, Karina taught students to make lanterns to celebrate the Lantern Festival, leading them to enjoy the fun of Chinese festival folk culture.

Karina and her daughter wrapping up zongzi on Dragon Boat Festival

Karina and Dong Xuesong singing “Red Berries in Blossom”

Hand-made lantern by students for the festival under the instruction of Karina

It is worth mentioning that Karina has been actively participating in international cooperation projects and keeping in contact with China. In July this year, she returned to China again and was invited to attend the “Belt and Road” Advanced Training Class at Shanghai University.

Karina attending the “Belt and Road” Advanced Training Class in Shanghai

Now, Karina's eldest daughter is 8 years old, the younger daughter 6 years old, and the youngest son 3 years old. Confucius Institute teachers gave three Chinese names to her children, Dai Geqiao (Mariam Terteryan), Dai Gefei (Lusine Terteryan), and Dai Gejun (Yeghishe Terteryan), hoping that they would pass on the excellent culture from one generation to another like galloping steeds. Every day, the children would read a lot of Chinese calligraphy and painting books at home and listen to their mother telling Chinese stories. Gradually, they have become more and more interested in China. Their father is also very supportive for them in learning Chinese, and would send his two daughters to the class for children of the Confucius Institute to learn Chinese every weekend. The children enjoy the Chinese language courses and various interesting activities there very much.

Dai Geqiao learning Chinese paper cutting

Dai Gefei (first from right) playing games with other kids in class

Speaking of her feelings for China, Karina mentioned a Chinese song “Great China” she once sang. She said that the lyrics fully express her own feelings. Karina’s bond with China started from the Spring Festival of 1989, the New Year's Eve of 2000, the Dragon Boat Festival in 2017 to the Lantern Festival in 2018; from her elderly mother, her middle-aged brother, her husband, and then to the young children. Karina and her family’s bond with China shall be “passed on from one generation to another”, just like the names of her three children.

Story by Wang Yaru, Photos by Jia Yaocheng, Wang Yaru and Karina Gevorgyan